Not all superheros wear capes. And not all accountants are pencil pushers. Put your analytical mind to the test and become a forensic accountant. You’ll sniff out fraudulent financial activity by performing audits on everything from law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, government institutions, and big business. You’ll literally be a crime-fighting accountant.
What kind of Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting should you get?
Forensic accounting is considered a law enforcement job. You may not be patrolling the streets at night, but you will be involved in high-profile cases. You’re moving in the right direction by getting a master’s degree in forensic accounting. Most upper-level positions – like working at the FBI or the Department of Defense – will require a graduate degree.
One thing all of these programs have in common is that you can complete them online. These days, online learning is increasingly popular and effective for working adults. They are flexible, affordable, and just as rigorous as any traditional program.
Some schools give you the option of coming on-campus for residencies or hands-on learning. If that’s important to you, check out Stevenson University or West Virginia University. Other schools include coursework that will help you finish your Certified Public Accountant license. If that’s on your radar, start with Liberty University or Bay Path University.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these programs Take a look and see what works for your budget and your schedule. If finances are the biggest concern for you, but you’re still hoping to stay in the field of forensics, take a peek at College Choice’s list of the Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology.
How much money do people make with an Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting?
You’ll be pleased to learn that being a forensic accountant will not only keep you vocationally satisfied, but also financially supported.
You’ll be working within the field of accounting, which is already a lucrative area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants make on average $68,150 per year, but that number increases to an average of $72,950 for accountants working in finance and insurance.
When we get even more specific, Certified Fraud Examiners can make upwards of $104,500 per year. The demand is there. Financial law and auditing regulations are constantly in flux. We need experts in the field to keep organizations in check. As a whole, forensic science positions are expected to rise in demand by 17 percent in the next ten years. Finishing up a master’s degree now will secure you a position in a long and rewarding career.
What can you do with an Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting?
Since forensic accounting is such a specialized field, your options will come more from where you want to work rather than what you’ll be doing.
Regardless of where you work, your job description will likely be the same: you’ll be hired to perform third-party audits on financial transactions and business funds. That means you’ll be scanning receipts, tax returns, financial agreements, and other documents to see if anything seems fishy. If you find incriminating data or evidence, it’s up to you to prepare and present that data in court. This means you not only need to have the mathematical chops in accounting, but also the ability to understand litigation.
White collar crimes are serious. Sometimes they go all the way to the top of Fortune 500 companies. That means forensic accountants are needed in some of the highest positions of law enforcement. Here are some places that you could work as a forensic accountant:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- U.S. Department of Defense
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service
- Accounting firms
- Insurance companies
What are the requirements for an Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting?
In order to qualify for a number of these programs, you’ll need to have at least some background in accounting or business. Maybe that’s an undergraduate degree in accounting. Maybe it’s an MBA. Either way, schools will want to see that you have a basic understanding of the core concepts.
All of the programs last between one and two years. Most require around 30-40 credit hours to complete. The amazing thing about online programs is that you can make school fit with your schedule in whatever way it works for you.
As you start digging into the curriculum, you’ll find that most of these schools only require ten to twelve classes total. This program will fly by! So make the most of your education. Add on a Certificate in Cybercrime. Attend mock trials. Interact with faculty beyond your required classes. All of these things will enhance your education and make you a better forensic accountant in the long run.
What are the best Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting degrees?
Below you’ll find the 10 Best Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting degrees. We took a number of steps to boil down our list to the top ten. First and foremost, we gathered the academic quality of each program. Then we looked at affordability and the return on investment – a big factor in how you decide on a school. And, last but not least, we factored in student happiness using retention rates and graduation rates.
Our methodology draws from our own data experts at College Choice, the well-respected resources at U.S. News & World Report, and the number-crunching whiz kids at Payscale.com. If you’re ready to solve financial crimes and bring criminals to justice, then look no further. Here are the top programs in the nation!
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $24,794
Liberty University houses the best online Master’s in Forensic Accounting. A conservative evangelical school in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is the largest Christian university in the world. Its distance-learning branch, LU Online, enrolls over 100,000 students.
Students have the ability to finish this online MA in Forensic Accounting in as short as one year. Through a total of 30 credit hours, you’ll learn everything you need to know about monitoring illegal activity in business transactions and beyond. Some of the highlight coursework includes:
- Accounting Ethics
- Fraud Examination
- Information Technology & Fraud
- Corporate Governance & Fraudulent Financial Reporting
One key feature of this program is the possibility of getting the credentials to become a Certified Public Accountant. Paired together with an undergraduate degree in accounting, you can add your status as a CPA to your resume to increase your hireability.
College Choice Score: 97.86
Average Net Price: $27,686
A private university near Baltimore, Maryland, Stevenson University has a home campus in Owings Mills. The small enrollment size keeps classes intimate and academically rigorous. Aside from its traditional programs, Stevenson University offers accelerated onsite and online degrees through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
At Stevenson University, you’ll complete 36 credit hours to earn an MS in Forensic Accounting completely online. You’ll jump right into the curriculum in analyzing financial evidence, fraud risk, internal control structures, and more. A sampling of some classes you’ll take includes:
- Foundations of Justice
- Investigation and Analysis: Auditing
- Forensic Journal Research and Review
- White Collar Crimes
Since part of your future could involve presenting information in a courtroom setting, the capstone project for this degree is the Mock Trial requirement. This will be a “dress rehearsal” of the real deal when you graduate. You can either complete this online, or come to campus to Stevenson University’s mock trial courtroom.
Florida Atlantic University
College Choice Score: 96.97
Average Net Price: $11,303
Florida Atlantic University is a large, public institution in Boca Raton, Florida. Within the state’s university system, it consistently ranks as the most racially and culturally diverse campus. It excels in research, and houses one of the twelve NASA Research Partnership Centers in the nation.
At Florida Atlantic University, you’ll earn an online Executive Master of Accounting degree with a concentration in Forensic Accounting. This two-year program will not only give you the foundational accounting classes, but also expose you to specialized subjects in forensic accounting. Some of these include:
- Writing in Forensic Accounting
- Business Valuation for Fair Value Accounting and Auditing
- Advanced Digital Forensics in Forensic Accounting
- IT Auditing
FAU is well-equipped to not only give you an amazing education but also to send you away with resources you’ll use the rest of your career. The School of Accounting Executive Program maintains a Forensic Accounting blog that keeps students up to date with current industry trends, conferences, and networking opportunities.
La Salle University
College Choice Score: 93.18
Average Net Price: $26,772
Philadelphia is home to La Salle University, a private, Roman Catholic university that was started in 1863. Recently, it made enormous changes to its tuition policy, reducing the price of attendance by nearly 30 percent. As a result, it was named the #16 “Best Value Schools” in 2017 by U.S. News & World Report.
You can go one of two ways as you complete the MS in Economic Crime Forensics at La Salle University: Corporate Fraud or Network Security. Both tracks are offered completely online. You’ll complete a total of 36-39 credit hours, depending on your focus. Some of the core courses include:
- Corporate Ethics and Compliance
- Litigation Support Practices and Procedures
- Occupational Fraud
- Fraud Detection and Prevention: Special Cases
If you want to take this degree one step further, you can earn the Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity. You’ll take an additional five courses, but gain an immeasurable skill. This would give you an upper hand when it comes to computer crimes and information security, which is increasingly prevalent in our world.
College Choice Score: 91.58
Average Net Price: $19,800
A largely online institution, Strayer University is a for-profit, public university that is based in Herndon, Virginia. Out of its total of 48,000 students, over half of them attend programs that are operated 100 percent online. Aimed toward working adults, Strayer University has close to eighty different campuses throughout the United States.
Packaged in just 12 classes, the Forensic Accounting concentration within the online MS Accounting at Strayer University will pack a punch. You’ll leave this program confident and prepared to take on complex risk models and large-scale audits. Some of the classes to get you there are:
- Forensic Accounting
- Emerging Auditing Technologies
- Fraud Prevention and Detection
- Advanced Auditing
When it comes to online learning, Strayer University will not leave you stranded. Each and every student is paired up with a personal success coach. Whether you’re having trouble signing up for classes or just need some motivation to study, your success coach will be just a phone call or email away.
West Virginia University
College Choice Score: 91.48
Average Net Price: $10,814
West Virginia University is the most affordable school on our list, with a net price of $10,814. This public university is known for its research-intensive curriculum across fields. Based in Morgantown, WVU has cultivated a partnership with the FBI and houses on-campus facilities that aid in the hands-on portions of the Forensics and Investigative Science degrees.
You’ll earn an online MS in Forensic & Fraud Examination at WVU. The curriculum is arranged in a total of ten courses, six of which focus on forensic accounting. The remaining four broaden the scope and cover business skills that are essential to the field. Finally, you’ll complete two case examinations that mimic a courtroom experience. Some of the core classes are:
- Fraud Investigation
- Fraud Criminology & Legal Issues
- Advanced Analytical Techniques
- Forensic and Fraud Examination Skills
Although you’ll take your ten classes online, WVU also requires two 2-day residencies that get you face-to-face with faculty members and let you experience a few elements of the degree that are easier to complete in person. You’ll cover interrogation training, financial crime scene investigation, and advanced data mining.
Bay Path University
College Choice Score: 88.08
Average Net Price: $22,012
A private university in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Bay Path University is an innovative and unique school. It makes a gendered split between its undergraduate and graduate programs, both online and on-campus. Only women pursue its bachelor degree options, however the master’s degree programs are co-educational.
Forensic Accounting is one of three concentrations that you can choose within the larger MS in Accounting at Bay Path University. Divided between seven core courses and three electives, you’ll end up with 30 completed credits. Some of the core classes in this curriculum are:
- Advanced Financial Reporting
- IT for Accountants
- Forensics Accounting/Systems
- Fraud Examination
Similar to other programs on this list, the classes included in this degree are designed to go toward the state requirements for a Certified Public Accountant licensure. This is an incredible opportunity for you to tackle “two birds with one stone.”
College Choice Score: 86.96
Average Net Price: $18,252
A Catholic university located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, Carlow University began as an all-female school in 1929. Though it is now co-educational, over 85 percent of the student body is female. The school offers traditional and online degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
You have the option of taking classes online or in the main Pittsburgh campus through this MS in Fraud & Forensics program. Either way, all students will complete 30 credits in all the latest fraud prevention, risk assessment, and audit procedures out there. The curriculum is engaging and unique with classes like:
- Scientific Inquiry in Fraud & Forensics
- Audit Procedures for Detecting Fraud
- Fraud & Forensics Community Experience
Carlow University will offer you more than just an excellent array of classes. The school has a partnership with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners that gives you access to a slew of anti-fraud resources. Students at Carlow University have gone on to work for the Department of Defense, the FBI, top accounting firms, and more.
New England College
College Choice Score: 86.53
Average Net Price: $27,640
Originally founded to educate military personnel after World War II, New England College has shifted to serve over 2,500 students from all walks of life in Henniker, New Hampshire. A private university, it is known for its liberal arts curriculum as well as its experiential learning opportunities.
You’ll complete this MS in Forensic Accounting degree in less than two years. The program at New England College is delivered fully online, which allows you to jump in at any 7-week increment throughout the year. You’ll have small online classes that emphasize interaction and student application. Some highlight coursework includes:
- Fraud Risk Management and Interrogation
- Business Crime and Ethical Behavior
- Litigation Services
- Financial Reporting Fraud
One of the huge benefits of online learning at New England College is the tight-knit feel the school achieves – even from afar! Your class sizes will be be anywhere from twelve to fifteen students. Even more, the school will pair you up with an enrollment advisor, a student services advisor, and access to 24/7 technical support. You’ll be in good hands!
SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica-Rome
College Choice Score: 85.60
Average Net Price: $14,410
Established in 1966, SUNY Polytechnic Institute is New York’s public polytechnic college. Though it specializes in engineering and biosciences, SUNY Polytechnic Institute also delivers a range of other degree programs including business administration, nursing, and more.
SUNY Polytechnic Institute recognized the rapidly-growing interest and need for forensic accountants and added on four unique electives in Forensic Accounting & Valuation. You’ll enroll in the MS in Accountancy degree program, which totals 33 credit hours, and then add these four classes to your elective options:
- Financial Statement Investigations
- Introduction to Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination
- Accounting Information Systems and Data Analytics
- Business and Forensic Valuation
SUNY Polytechnic Institute may have somewhat niche educational offerings, but it also garners widespread praise. It was ranked 3rd in this year’s “Public Regional Universities North” by U.S. News & World Report. It also earned the #6 spot for the “Best Colleges for Veterans” in the region.